Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Next Big Holiday

Zachary is always thinking about what is next. I am sure he gets this from me. We both seem to have a difficult time focusing on the moment. A typical conversation might go something like this:

Zack: What are we doing after quiet time?
Me: We are going to a play date.
Zack: What are we going to do after the play date?
Me: We will have dinner.
Zack: What are we going to do after dinner?
Me: You will take a bath.
Zack: Yeah, but what are we going to do after that?

Recently this trend has moved on to the entire year. Zachary likes to review the upcoming holidays and family birthdays. Which one is next? What about after that?

A couple of days ago we had the following conversation while driving home from a playgroup.

Zachary: Mommy, what holiday is next?
Me: New Years.
Zachary: Then what?
Me: Daddy's birthday.`
Zachary: Then what?
Me: Valentines Day.
Zachary: But you forgot Luther King Day.
Me: Your absolutely right!!
Zachary: What do we do for Luther King Day?
Me: Well... you won't have preschool.
Zachary: Will we have cake?
Me: Um... no.
Zachary: Do I get presents?
Me: No.
Zachary: Why not?
Me: Well, it's just not that type of holiday.
Zachary: Is there a party?
Me: No. Really it is just a day to remember Martin Luther King because he was a very good person. He wanted to make sure everyone was treated fairly.
Zachary: I HATE Luther King Day! He is mean!

Oh sweet Jesus. I suddenly envision being at the grocery store or the playground and Zachary screaming at the top of his lungs "Martin Luther King is STUPID. I Hate him!"

So I embarked on a campaign to educate Zack about Martin Luther King four year old terms. I stressed how hard he worked to make sure that everyone was nice and fair to everyone else. He didn't quite get it, and I didn't know how else to explain it. I thought I lucked out when I discovered an MLK book display at Barnes and Noble (they are merchandising geniuses!). I picked out a board book and pulled Zack up on my lap. The story was pretty weak.

"Martin Luther King was the son of a preacher". (Mommy what's a preacher??) "When he was a child he got very mad because he couldn't go to the best school, and there were some restaurants that wouldn't serve him. He also had to drink from special water fountains for black people" "When he grew up he became a preacher and told a lot of people about a dream that he had where all people were equal, and where his children could go to the best schools." "Martin Luther King made that dream come true. The end".

Huh????? I may have embellished a little bit, but that was pretty much the entire "story" yet it was still out of reach for Zachary. In his four year old world we really haven't approached the topics of inequality and racism. He doesn't know that there was a time in this world where black people were forced to ride at the back of the bus. Granted I know that someday it will be very important for him to learn this sad part of our American history, I feel that it just too early.

A few days ago I wrote about Zack's questions regarding airport security. I didn't want to answer those inquiries either. For better or for worse, I want Zack to stay in the dreamy, magical world of childhood for as long as possible. His biggest problems should be sharing his toys with his brother, and his thoughts should be focused on superheros and robots. He has the rest of his life to worry about reality.

So for the time being I have dropped the topic. I am keeping my fingers crossed that there will be no public mentioning of hating "Luther King", and wondering what the kid will say next.

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